Youth services to close

Article published: Tuesday, March 15th 2011

Young people and youth workers have reacted with anger and disbelief following the city council’s decision to close down its entire Youth Service – the only local authority in the country to do so. Meanwhile workers have been barred from speaking about the closure, including to the young people who use the services.

image by Penny Krantz

When school student Lewis Braithwaite was shot dead out side a chip shop outside Withington in 2008, local youth workers helped set up a project to involve young people in order to draw them away from the ‘gangs, guns and knife crime’ culture present in areas of the city.

Yet overnight the Home Office have cut the Youth Crime Action Plan funding granted to the Unity Arts Project which operates out of the Old Moat Young People’s Centre. Workers at the centre say this was done with no warning or explanation.

“Its absolutely disgusting, they only care about themselves. They are not looking at the big picture. It will damage the future of young people in this City,” explained one youth volunteer who has been involved with the Unity Festival, a long-standing multicultural, anti racist music and arts project that operates from the Old Moat Center. “I used to go to the adventure playground in Moss Side,” he said, “but now they have pulled the funding to that as well.”

Now Manchester City Council has decided to disband the entire Youth Service as part of its effort to cuts its budget by over a quarter for the next financial year. The proposal was rubber-stamped in the fiery full council meeting last week with no councillors raising concerns. Over 300 youth workers have learnt that their posts have been made redundant by the city council, led by Sir Richard Leese, who was himself once a youth worker at Abraham Moss in North Manchester. In neighbouring Newton Heath over 100 young people regularly attend the youth centre but it is now due to close.

According to an educational report into Key Stage 4 attendence Youth Service-based Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), which offer education for young people who have been excluded from mainstream schools, achieve higher levels of attendance than other PRUs. Although workers have been told that their posts will remain until July – allowing pupils to sit their exams – it is unclear where such young people will be able to access education next academic year.

Cllr Jeff Smith (Old Moat ward) receives the petition against closure of youth centres. Image by Penny Krantz

Youth workers have been threatened with disciplinary action if they speak out about the Youth Club closures.

One who didn’t wish to be named, said: “Some people think that when you say ‘youth services’ it just means playing pool and football. But we provide vital services, such as helping excluded pupils gain their GCSEs. What will happen to them now?”

They have even been banned from speaking to young people about the future of the service.

“The first many young people will know of their centres closing will be when they turn up and there is a closure notice on the door,” said Collette Crosdale, Trustee of Old Moat Outreach Project. “Youth workers have been gagged and are not even allowed to tell the young people they work with about the closures. Even Tory Councils are not doing this!”

Jill Lovelock,  who has worked with young people on arts projects in Manchester for decades spoke of the injustice of the abolition of the service: “It was the Youth Service management who were damned in the recent OFSTED report, while those who do the face to face youth work were praised.”

In just over a week over 2,000 names were collected on petitions asking for the service to be saved. They were presented to local Labour Cllrs Jeff Smith and Andrew Fender, who are both on the management committee of the Old Moat Youth Centre that is now set to close. Manchester City Council were contacted by MULE for comments on the issue but declined to respond.

“We all remember that in 1981 desperate and angry young people rioted in Manchester,” said a spokesperson from Manchester Coalition Against the Cuts. “Young people from across the city will be welcomed on the march in London on the 26th. Our aim is to build a movement strong enough to reverse these unnecessary closures,” he said.

Mark Krantz

An original version of the article first appeared on the Manchester Coalition Against the Cuts blog

More: Manchester, News


  1. ‘Youth workers have been threatened with disciplinary action if they speak out about the Youth Club closures.’

    Standard business practice in all industries. Not newsworthy.

    Despite these youth worker job losses the number of education employees in Manchester will have boomed enormously over the last dozen years or so.

    Given the huge increase in those on the council’s education payroll it is a pity that standards of performance and behaviour have remained so low in Manchester’s schools. There’s really no point in continuing to throw good maney after bad.

    Comment by simon on March 15, 2011 at 8:04 pm
  2. Simon you obviously are in need of some education yourself. Apart from your spelling mistakes you need to realise the importance of youth clubs and youth work. It is important for young people to engage in activities outside of school which give them the opportunity to explore interests and talents which may not be harnessed at school. This allows them to focus, and may make the difference between afulfilled and rounded human being, or a potential offender. Youth clubs provide safe environment for young people to socialise and can give them the attention that they may not be recieving at home. Young people might be more inclined to speak to a youth worker (someone who is less authoritarian than a school teacher) about things that may be troubling them such as bullying, pregnancy, abuse, etc. If you were to work in a youth club you would understand the importance, children are the future and they are being robbed of so much that people before them have taken for granted. Do you not think that our children deserve a place which allows them to express themselves interact with others safely? Some parents are rubbish and youth club is the only place they actually get to have some one to one time with an adult!

    Comment by Youth on March 16, 2011 at 1:38 am
  3. Simon what you write is pure conjecture based on no hard evidence or fact. Either way an increase in education employees is warranted given that 27 of the city’s 33 wards fall into the top 10% deprived in the country. Your assumption educational performance and ‘behaviour’ (whatever that means) are determined solely by the number of teachers or education workers displays a complete ignorance of the interplay of social factors including economic activity of parents, deprivation and ability to access services and amenities on achievement. The abolition of EMA in Further Education will certainly have a negative impact on this. And do you think that it is right that the youth workers (the same happened in Manchester Advice) are banned from telling those to whom they provide a service that it is going to end?

    Comment by Withingtonian on March 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm
  4. Simon you have not got a clued what youth services do whether they are voluntary or statutory funded. After losing my job as a youth worker of 20 years plus service I worry about the future of OUR young people. Youth services are, in many cases the only service that will work with young people when others have written them off including schools. Youth work has been around for over 100 years and has never been devastated to this extent by any other government including Thatcher’s as this shower are doing. The youth services works with ALL young people from ALL backgrounds, abilities and social classes if the young person CHOOSE to engaged with the service They are not forced to access the service it is their own chose. For many young people the youth service is their lifeline. I have worked with young people who have been on edge of despair and suicide due to their home, school or social situations but not at a level that any other service would intervene because the thresholds are set too high to be able to access them. Not all young people get the start or support in life that they deserve. Youth services are cheaper that putting young people in the criminal justice system, in care or on the caseload of over subscribed social workers. Over my 20 years plus I have seen young people who have managed to turn their lives around and become decent members of their communities due to the work of their youth workers. Some young people have even gone on to become volunteers and eventually paid workers in their local youth provision supporting other young people. Many school buy in the services of the youth workers to work with they young people they are unable to engage with, again because it is cheaper to have a youth worker that some other service provided.
    I suggest Simon you do your research there is plenty out there to look at even Ofsted have praised the work of youth services.

    Comment by Ex youth Worker on March 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm
  5. Ofsted will praise any old rubbish, epsecially in areas like Manchester and Salford. Ofsted, like everyone else knows that it is powerless to do anything in such dreadful areas.

    I know for a fact that more people are employed by Manchester council’s education department than ever before, and the payroll will still be huge by historical standards when the youth service ends.

    Given the nature of many poorly socialised and low abilty parents in the inner cities I’m not sure that youth workers have much of an effect anyway. The money spent on them doesn’t seem to bring a reasonable return on investment.

    Comment by simon on March 16, 2011 at 4:56 pm
  6. Keep fighting! This is an utter disgrace for all of us.

    Comment by Sue on March 16, 2011 at 10:48 pm
  7. Simon, firstly Youth Services is not an “industry”. This is not the private sector “mate”. You are a troll. **** off.

    Comment by @nzeribe on March 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm
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